Friday, March 27, 2009

I'm throwing down the gauntlet

My last four electricity bills, in reverse chronology:

47 kWh
73 kWh
91 kWh
73 kWh

This, in a state with an average residential consumption of 926 kWh per month in 2007.

In my favor:

- living alone, I can call the shots on electricity usage
- small apartment (500 sq. ft.)
- heating is by natural gas (though the blower fan is electric)
- the fridge is new, built 10/08, so relatively efficient (fridges have ever-rising standards)
- don't own a TV, microwave (though microwaves have an efficiency advantage over gas ovens), or dishwasher
- I use a laundromat for clothes washing

My bills would be slightly lower, but I made an arrangement with a college student in my building to share my internet signal, so I leave on my cable modem and (his) wireless router 24/7 (I would normally turn them off at night or when away).

What motivates me: knowing that Ohio's electricity mix is overwhelmingly based on coal-fired power plants: 85% in 2008, per EIA. I don't want to breathe any more airborne mercury and other toxic (humanly or environmentally) crap than I have to; nor do I want to eat mercury-laden fish (guess where that mercury comes from).

On Tuesday the 24th, I attended a T. Boone Pickens "town hall meeting", sponsored by Ohio-based energy giant AEP. On the panel with Mr. Pickens was AEP's CEO/Board Chair, Michael Morris. In the meeting, he touted AEP's reduction in coal use, as a percentage of their energy generation mix, down to a current 66% figure. I suppose he was referring to AEP's entire generating capacity in all states where they do business, not just Ohio's. Otherwise, I can't explain the discrepancy in figures.

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